Surrounded by walls and built on the southern slopes of the headland,
which the Byzantines separated, leaving only a narrow causeway (hence its name
in Greek, "single passage"), Monemvassia still retains much of its former
medieval character. For this reason perhaps it has now become popular with artists
and world celebrities.
Monemvassia was founded in the 6th century A.D. and has since suffered
the domination of Normans, Franks, Venetians and Turks, all of whom made additions
to the fortifications of the city.
The stately old mansions and 40 old Byzantine churches, some well
preserved, others not, in the Lower Town reflect the power and prosperity which
Monemvassia enjoyed for centuries under her various rulers. Of the churches within
the old city, that of Agios Nikolaos (18th cent.) and Elkomenou Christou, which
is Venetian in part, are certainly worth a short visit. A paved pathway leads
to the summit of the hill and the castle,
which overlooks the town below. Round the castle
are a number of Byzantine towers and several beautiful Byzantine churches in the
whole of Greece, built in the
same style as that at Dafni
near Athens. It is the 13th
century church of Agia Sofia, which welcomes its visitors to enjoy the beauty
of art in a natural setting.
The once rich vineyards of the region which produced the renowned
Malmsey wine are no longer cultivated, but this is not to say that Monamvassia
is without wine - necessary accompaniment to the red mullet and lobster for which
it is famous.
This text (extract) is cited March 2004 from the Greek
National Tourism Organization tourist pamphlet (1980).